The chaotic and violent scenes at last year’s Euro 2020 final at Wembley can never be repeated, according to UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
An estimated 5,000 thugs stormed the barriers at Wembley before England’s encounter with Italy, while terrified spectators and stewards fled .
An independent review of the disorder at London’s national stadium last July identified more than 20 ‘near-misses’ that could have resulted in serious injury or death.
A mass of England fans outside the stadium pushed at the barriers ahead of the match
UEFA punished the Football Association with a two-game stadium ban, one of which is suspended for two years, and a fine of £84,560 for the sorry scenes that marred England’s biggest game since the 1966 World Cup final.
It is the first time England have been forced to play a game behind closed doors because of their own fans’ behaviour
And Ceferin, who attended the game, reinforced his disappointment speaking at the 46th UEFA Congress held in Vienna.
‘The images of violence at Wembley Stadium at last year’s Euro final was unacceptable,’ he said.
‘When a family goes to see a match of the Euro or of any competition, it’s time for fun, for enjoyment, for watching football.
‘People should feel safe in and around a football stadium. They should never ever feel danger and they felt danger. With the authorities’ help, this cannot happen again. Never.’
At Wembley, up to 250,000 fans were on the periphery of the stadium before kick-off, with thousands involved in anti-social behaviour, including drug taking and urinating in public.
Fans gathered on Olympic Way outside Wembley ahead of the European Championship final
Football fans stormed through the security barriers at Wembley just moments ahead of England’s nail-biting fight against Italy, leading to coronavirus checks being abandoned
Fuelled by alcohol and dancing on broken glass that was thick across the pedestrianised street from Wembley Park underground station all the way to outskirts of the ground, some fans partied hard, lighting flares, scaling lamp posts and sitting atop of any accessible roof.
Thousands decided to try their luck and illegally grab one of the 30,000 vacant seats at Wembley after the capacity for the game had been cut from 90,000 to 60,000 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the confrontations that broke out around the stadium on July 11, 19 police officers were injured and many fans were left terrified. A report from the Home Office on football-related crime suggests only 39 people were arrested in connection with the disorder.
However, Wembley remains in favour with Ceferin and UEFA, and the stadium will host its inaugural ‘Finalissima’ match between Italy and Argentina next month, as well as the final of the Women’s Euros later this summer.
A UK and Ireland bid for Euro 2028 – where Wembley would almost certainly host the final – is also the strong favourite to succeed.
A review conducted by Baroness Casey, follopwing the match, which Italy won on penalties, found there was a collective failure from all those involved in organising the final to plan for the worst-case scenario, but did not apportion blame to any single agency. Instead, Casey held the individuals involved in the disorder responsible.
The review found police were deployed too late when ticketless supporters had started gathering outside Wembley from 9am
Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said at the time: ‘The review makes clear that the circumstances leading up to the match led to a perfect storm of lawlessness.
‘No event is set up to deal with such disgraceful behaviour from thousands of ticketless fans. Collectively we must never allow this to happen again.
‘Baroness Casey is clear that moving forwards, where there is an event of national significance, we and all agencies must view it through a different lens.
‘I would like to thank everyone who worked at the match that day. Many people went well above and beyond their roles and performed their duties with courage and determination. This was often at personal risk to themselves.
‘The lessons learned from this review will ensure that fans have a good experience at major international events at Wembley, as they have for many years.’